Bioethics Discussion Blog: An Ethical Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage: The Outcome of Marriages

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

An Ethical Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage: The Outcome of Marriages




First, from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2007 statistics
:
• Number of marriages: 2,197,000
• Marriage rate: 7.3 per 1,000 total population
• Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 population (46 reporting States and D.C.)

Second, I recently received an e-mail from a visitor to this blog which included the following comment:

"I have often wondered, with the dismal success rate of marriage in the western world, why gay people would want to emulate that most dysfunctional of co-habitations.....the desire for total equality, I suppose."

Third, I have nothing further to write to this thread except await your responses. ..Maurice.

Graphic: Customary wedding rings. Photograph from Wikipedia.

16 Comments:

At Sunday, May 31, 2009 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Well, I did have one more thing to write on same-sex marriage. For those who would like to read an excellent review of the ethical pros and cons of same-sex marriage, go to this BBC link. ..Maurice.

 
At Sunday, May 31, 2009 1:46:00 PM, Anonymous alex said...

wow, maurice, now you have really done it....."dancing where angels fear to tread" comes to mind.
this may be a weighty debate, so let me be short at first.
1. i believe men are equally capable of loving each other in the same way as men love women and women are equally capable of loving women the same way as they love men.
2.there is sexual compatability (aren't we men always horny? or is that just american folklore?)
3.if i have committed myself to another man for life, why should i not get the same considerations as heterosexual spouses, e.g. visitation rights in hospitals, life insurance pay-outs?)

 
At Sunday, May 31, 2009 2:40:00 PM, Blogger MER said...

I don't want to argue against same sex marriage -- but I do want to pose some questions.
-- If we're going to change the historical/traditional definition of marriage, why limit it to the same sex marriage couple?Logically, why shouldn't the definition be opened up to include various variations of multiple marriage -- 3 men, 4 women; 1 man, 10 women; 1 women, 10 men. Why can't each of those Why can't these configurations be considered a valid marriage?
-- Why can't the age limit be revised, too. If we allow a 13-year-old girl, for example, to get an abortion without the consent of her patents, why shouldn't we allow her the right to marry in any variation she chooses without parent permission? Equally, why shouldn't a 13-year-old boy be able to do the same? Gender equity, right?

In other words, I'm curious as wo why, if people believe the historical/traditional definition can be changed, why do they feel they have the right to limit it to "one" man and man or "one" woman and woman?"

 
At Sunday, May 31, 2009 7:33:00 PM, Anonymous alex said...

those are very intriguing and valid questions, MER; i would suggest that you build yourself a bandwagon and try to get people to jump on it.
the problem i have with them is that they generally indicate choices.
i am queer and have been all my life and it was not my choice.
if my lover should be in an accident, his distant cousin could visit him in the hospital, but i, who have been his lifemate for more than 15 years, could not.
there are some choice (get it) words i could use to describe what i think of that, but fair, compassionate are not among them.

there is an absurdity in the stand one church takes: it will ordain gay priests, but not practising homosexuals.
if asked in a job interview if he was, i would love it if he would respond :"no, i do not need to practise, i am damn good at it"

 
At Monday, June 01, 2009 1:17:00 PM, Blogger MER said...

Alex: You say these situations " they generally indicate choices" -- and that yours is not a choice. I don't argue with whether your life style is a choice or not. If you say it's not a choice, I go with you. But, frankly, you have no more quantifiable evidence to prove your situation is not a choice -- no more evidence than people in any of the situations I described above. Basically, you say it's not a choice. That's your evidence.

Why not allow Mormons to have multiple wives? That's a religious doctrine, a received truth in their religion. A received truth from God isn't a choice to the religious. Sorry -- as I see it, choice is not the issue here. Those who want marriage opened up to go beyond one man and one woman, are not willing to open the door all the way. Why just open it up part way? There may be other configurations for marriage that we haven't even thought of yet.

 
At Monday, June 01, 2009 3:21:00 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

MER,
What sort of evidence/ what evidence is enough for you, for anone?
You ask me for evidence, but when I ask you for evidence if there is a god, you simply respond by saying :"have faith"
I clearly remember that at the age of 5 I performed oral sex on my pals (some said NO) is that enough evidence for you? Was I able at that age to make that choice?
And do not call mine a lifestyle.
Lifestyle is the term used by those who engage in sexual activities by choice.
By the way, engaging in sexual activity is not a choice, it's an bio/psycho/anthropical act.
You do realize the biggest sex organ is the brain, right?

 
At Monday, June 01, 2009 6:58:00 PM, Blogger MER said...

Alex:

I'm not challenging whether you have a choice or not. If you say you don't, you don't. I'm just saying that the same goes for others, too, regarding, for example, their religious beliefs. Multiple marriages have been are still a part of the cultural and religious traditions of many. Why is that illegal in the U.S.
All I'm saying is that once you crack open the door in changing the definition of marriage, you need to justify why it can't be opened futher and perhaps all the way. If the definition of marriage comes up for debate, we need debate the whole thing. Not just whether we open it up to gays.
Sexual orientation is a personal thing. I don't challenge yours or judge you at all. But others have rights, too.

 
At Monday, June 01, 2009 7:12:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

MER and Alex, I would like to get back to the original expression of "marriage" on this thread as the "most dysfunctional of co-habitations". If it is really true that half of the marriages involving a man and a woman end up in divorce (or worse still occasional murder or murder-suicide) what does it say about marriage as a state to be preserved as something untouchable in terms of preservation of the criteria of who should or can be considered "married"? I think that this should be seriously discussed here. ..Maurice.

 
At Monday, June 01, 2009 8:28:00 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

The initial attraction being based on an age-old inner need to procreate and nurture the offspring, the two parties to such a union are undeniably two separate entities, each believing in loving bliss, they can meld together.
Their value systems , formed in the very early years of childhood - indeed, even before birth genetically - their experiences, their most private beliefs and thoughts, their ambitions are often not manifested until the relationship is well under way.
And despite the best intentions of "loving each other till the end of time", these differences begin to sabotage the union. There are isuues around finances, around sexuality, around discipline methods, around extended family members and their idiosyncracies, around career ambitions.
The differences in value systems and upbringing are playing major roles here, yet, the expectation is for these two people to "tough it out, as so many have done before you.
After all, aren't they just "made for each other"?
Do spouses really know everything about each other? Their deepest secrets? And if we don't, can we reasonably be expected to address matters that stand in the way of reasonable, constructive and fruitful co-habitation?

 
At Tuesday, June 02, 2009 7:46:00 AM, Blogger Dmitri said...

I have often wondered why the high divorce rates are seen as one of the catastrophes of modern Western societies. In Canada around 50% of marriages end in divorce (or so I am being constantly told) and immediately people start raising red flags and saying that there is something fundamentally wrong with society and start looking for scapegoats.
But, really, what's wrong with a 50% divorce rate? Nothing! In many ways I see it as quite possibly a good thing. 50% divorce rate means that those who do not want to stay married can and do end the unsuccessful relationships and move on. Well they try to, but we seem to label them as "failures", unable to make a true commitment to the sacred institution of marriage.
Marriage is not sacred. It is a voluntary union of private individuals who seek a someone that they would be willing to spend time with, to devote to and be devoted to in return. The epitome of friendship, in a way. Now unless we are assuming that there is always a reliable way to "know better" there are necessarily going to be trials and errors. I thought I loved you. I thought you were the one. I thought this would work. But I was wrong and now I want to move on. Divorce makes this possible.
Before people get outraged at the "failure" of marriage in the West and elsewhere I wish they would consider two things. First, given what we know about our ignorance, naive and imperfect natures is it really reasonable to expect low divorce rates? In my mind a low divorce rate would at the very least give me pause to ask whether or not too many people are wasting their time, energy and happiness trying to make some work when it's never going to. Second, I wish people would re-evaluate their attitudes towards divorces and those who have gone through them. We have, of course, moved beyond ostracizing divorced people from society but there is still a prevailing attitude of failure around the issue. The pity and the "condolences" perpetuate a stigma of their very own. Yes divorce hurts. It hurts to have been wrong about something as dear to oneself as love of another. But it is not a failure. It is merely a part of being human. Trial and error.
And same sex couples are just as capable of this search for love as heterosexual couples and they have the same right to get out there and look for that special someone who is simultaneously looking for them, to fall down and to get back up in the process.

Cheers,
Dmitri

 
At Tuesday, June 02, 2009 7:54:00 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

Furthermore, in larger units of co-habitation, there are systems in place designed to "make it work", there are rules and mechanisms to enforce these should things get out of hand.
Student dorms have rules; towns/cities have bylaws; states have laws...but who is ensuring that the parties to a marriage are following the rules and what are those rules?
And shouldn't we have any, human nature being what it is?

 
At Tuesday, June 02, 2009 10:39:00 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

Dmitri,
I understood the premise of this thread to be an examination of the validity of the institution of marriage and to question why it should even be sustained.
Marriage, as I stated in my second-last post, was the evolutionary result of the biologically driven need to belong and to nurture the young to adulthood.

Can two people be expected to sustain a unit so full of built-in flaws?
And your question: Is it necessary, even desirable to hang onto something like that?

My intitial point was that where two people of opposite genders commit to one another and where society has conferred upon them within the institution of marriage certain rights, is that same society not obliged to confer those same rights to two individuals of the same gender, given that we understand the latter have the same capability of loving each other as the former?

There are all kinds of reasons people divorce and there are just as many reasons, i presume, people stay together in a marriage.
Some individuals thrive in dysfunctional circumstances.

There are co-habitations that resemble marriage, but have not as such been instititionalized : common-law arrangements are now recognized under the law and parties to such arrangements are now entitled to the same right as those within the institution of marriage.

In today's society, at least here in the western world, marriage is also somewhat equated with dependability, especially where the union has produced offspring.
Many companies are interested in hiring men/women with families.
I believe there is a message of morality woven into that preference for hiring a "famly man"

 
At Tuesday, June 02, 2009 11:09:00 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

Sorry, got it slightly upside down in the last post.
My question was: why, with such a dismal success rate of the institution of marriage, would gays want to emulate it.
Then, basically, I answered my own question by suggesting it would be to gain complete equality.

 
At Wednesday, June 03, 2009 2:47:00 AM, Anonymous Mary said...

these are homophobian oppinions!
our society today should be tolant & accept that!
everybody has the right to marry, no mather which sex, religion & nationality! everybody should be able to adopt children!

 
At Wednesday, June 03, 2009 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

I presented the issue of this thread on a bioethics listserv. An ethicist, Constance Perry, PhD wrote the following response to the listserv and gave me permission to reproduce the response here. ..Maurice.

The “civil unions” argument is strange. If “marriage” is a purely religious term, then it is a question up to each denomination and its clergy. In that case, if a couple of whatever gender mix gets married in a religious ceremony by someone ordained in that order and within the requirements of the faith then the state should recognize the marriage. To do otherwise is to regulate that religion’s interpretation of what faith requires/allows. No one is proposing that a specific religion must marry same-sex couples.



If marriage is a political term, then it is subject to the rules of law. If marriage was solely a religious term, then any couple married by a judge, justice of the peace, mayor, etc. would only be in a civil union, not married and subject to any limitations placed on those who were only in a civil union. But couples can get married outside of a house of worship. So, there is a political sense of the word that is sufficient for legal marriage. This country has recognized that discrimination is wrong. I see no state interest that would be sufficient to override the private interests of two competent adults to get married in accordance with their beliefs and sexual preferences. I have yet to have anyone convince me that same-sex marriage is a threat to my marriage or to children produced in such an arrangement. On the contrary, if same sex families have the same social support systems that are provided to married couples, it relieves a source of tension and stress that could strain any relationship.



Sexual preference is not a choice. Just as it is wrong to discriminate against people based on skin color, it is wrong to discriminate against someone based on sexual preference. In the United States, marriage is used in both political and religious senses. By legalizing same-sex marriage, the state is saying that it will recognize marriages performed by a religious order even if it is between two people of the same sex. There is no existing harm to others of same-sex marriage, despite hype. As adults we should be beyond the stage of “cooties”-like fears. Marriages stand or fall regardless of what is going on in the house next door.

 
At Tuesday, December 15, 2009 2:48:00 AM, Anonymous Maria said...

I can´t even believe we´re having this discussion!! For those religious fanatics and morons who feel their marriage vows worthless if they´re shared by gays and lesbians let me tell you first: mariiage isn´t sacred...And second, a high divorce rate is only a symptom of the deep flaws of the institution of marriage itself. We either allow same gender couples the same rights than any other couple or we do not.

 

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